The chances of coach Mark Rudan staying at the Wellington Phoenix beyond this season is becoming a 50-50 scenario.

And that's probably at best.

It's an unusual situation, as Rudan is contracted until the end of next season.

But it's reality — for a number of reasons — and could overshadow the rest of the campaign.


Rudan needs to find a way to resolve a difficult domestic situation — isolated from his family across the Tasman — and also wants to see greater commitment and ambition from the Phoenix into the future, saying on Thursday that if there are not improvements, "then I won't be here".

While one Australian bookmaker has already paid out on the Phoenix making the finals, for only the second time in seven seasons, the odds also appear to be diminishing on the 43-year-old being in Wellington for the second year of his contract.

When asked about his future on Thursday, Rudan was initially reluctant to discuss it. He refused to commit to being in the capital next year, perhaps understandable as negotiations are ongoing.

But he also wouldn't comment on speculation that has linked him to the head coach role at the new Western Melbourne franchise, essentially being unable to rule out going there.

"I respect your question," said Rudan, when asked about his commitment for next season. "I think I have spoken enough about it. There is enough dialogue going on between myself and the football club and at the right time we will speak about that. I hope you respect my side of things as well.

"I've heard the club's [view] and I am going to be hearing more from them at the same time I am putting forward my case, I've made it quite clear."

At the forefront of Rudan's mind is his family, living more than 2,000 kilometres away in Sydney.

"I've got a personal situation I have to resolve and pretty soon as well," said Rudan. "I've got two teenage kids who need their Dad around and Dad needs them around too. But I bought into this and we've made a decision. But I also said [before] that if I thought it was going to be this hard I probably wouldn't have taken this on…that's reality."


Rudan also indicated he wants to see evidence that the Phoenix can become an A League heavyweight.

The club has always been run on a tighter budget than many other A League teams, with a smaller backroom staff and thinner resources. That has changed positively this season, but would need to move significantly to compare with Sydney FC, Perth Glory or Friday's opponent Melbourne Victory.

"The club understands that I want a proper project, and I want to build on that," said Rudan. " I'm not going to sit back and rest on my laurels. If things that have been done in the past continue in that way, then I won't be here. They need to improve, everything needs to improve."

Both Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison and CEO David Dome have made comments in recent weeks espousing Rudan's personal integrity, with the underlying implication that it will be a key factor in him honouring the remainder of his deal, beyond a possible extension.

"Anyone who knows me will tell you the same thing [about integrity] but I keep saying, first and foremost, I am most honourable to my family," said Rudan. "Simple as that. And you can take that however you want, but that is the start of it and the end of it."

Beyond his personal situation, Rudan is fully focused on what looms as a massive game at Eden Park on Friday night.

The coach, who showed his methodical side by pacing out the stadium's pitch yesterday morning before training to check the dimensions, hopes the expected 20,000 crowd will create a difficult atmosphere for the Victory.

"They are quite parochial and vocal here in Auckland and hopefully the louder the better," said Rudan. "I am sick of tired of going to AAMI park and listening to their fans. They are one of the best [fan support] in the league so I'm hoping we can turn the table and make this loud and ugly for them [tonight]."